Lesvi De La Cruz: A Message to My Fellow Graduates
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High School graduation season is upon us. During this time of year, countless numbers of students will being making the transition from high school to college and career paths. How do we ensure that this transition is successful? In the coming weeks, we will be featuring blog posts that explore best practices in working to ensure college and career readiness.
The following is a prepared text of the graduation speech delivered by recent Christel House DORS graduate, Lesvi De La Cruz, on June 5, 2015.
"Good evening, I would like to welcome you to this joyous and wonderful occasion, and I would like to give a special welcome to the graduating class of 2015!
It is an honor for me to be standing here tonight, not just because I am graduating but also because I am sharing this experience with my classmates. I would like to thank principal Emily Masengale and Mrs. Lindsey Roache for the privilege of giving this speech.
When I told a friend I was graduating from high school, her reaction was not what I expected. She made me feel as if getting my high school diploma was not a big deal. But then I read this quote that said, “Sometimes, the smallest steps in the right direction ends up being the biggest steps of your life. Tip toe if you must but take the step.” This step must seem small to others but we know it's the beginning of our journey.
For me getting my high school diploma and going to college was a long shot. In high school my counselor told me that unless my parents had a lot of money I couldn't go to college due to the cost of tuition for undocumented students. I knew my parents had no money so on my junior year I decided to drop out of school and joined the work force. I worked in various dead end jobs, and realized that the only way to get ahead was by getting my education so I enrolled in Christel House DORS. Christel House DORS has opened may doors for me, more than I could ever imagine. Not only have they helped me get my high school diploma but they have also made my dream of going to college possible. They paid for 19 college credits, a couple of certifications, my son's daycare and a Biology immersion trip to Kentucky. In addition to that they have provided me with countless of resources and emotional support. I have met a lot of great people throughout my journey and received amazing opportunities, like competing nationally for the Ivy Tech speech team in Colorado. I will also have the opportunity to intern at a prestigious law firm this summer. Even with all of these successes my journey has not been easy. I had financial, emotional, physical, and academic struggles. I have been depressed to the point where I didn't go to school for a while. There were times I didn't have any gas money; I got pregnant and had a baby; I went through a separation and then a marriage. I have been told that I can't go to school let alone get a job due to me being undocumented. I overcame every obstacle that has come my way. Nothing has or will stop me. The diploma I receive today is not for me it is for my mother who has always believed in me, my two sons Jason and Angel, and for my future generations.
According to America's promise alliance 1.3 million students drop out of high school each year in the United States. That is 1 students every 26 seconds, to put that in perspective that is actually more that the population of the city of Indianapolis.
We have beat the odds, but it's not over yet as I keep saying it is just the beginning. Let's keep on betting the odds, let's keep on striving for a brighter, and better future. Some of us are going to college, some of you are entering the work force, no matter which path you are on don't forget to continue to work hard, overcome, and give back to our community. Yes life will happen, obstacles will continue to come. Even if one door closes knock on a different one. Martin Luther King once said “ If you can't fly, then run. If you can't run, then walk. If you can't walk, then crawl, But whatever you do you have to keep on moving forward.”
None of this would be possible with the support from our teachers who selflessly helped us. They came early and left late everyday. I would also like to thank the staff for caring and understanding us. My resource specialist Danijel Yeakey who has helped me in ways that I will forever be grateful. She haunted me down when I was depressed and didn't come to school. She came to my house and encouraged me to keep on going and to not give up. To our founding principal Emily Masengale who has worked extremely hard to make this program possible. I also want to give a special thanks to the Christel House Academy board members, for their investments and believing in every single one of us. We don't need a superwoman or a superman when we have people such as yourselves who help us and give us a chance for a better life. One last thanks to all the friends and family that came out today and joined us on this special occasion. Class of 2015 today we walk into our future with our heads held high and our future looks bright!"
Lesvi De La Cruz came to the United States when she was nine, the youngest of six children. She was raised by hardworking parents who were illiterate and could offer little guidance as far as education. She dropped out of high school when she was seventeen seeing no future for herself. She had her first son at nineteen and was working at a dead end job to support herself and her son. She started and stopped the GED program multiple times never taking the test. At 25yrs old she learned about and enrolled in the Christel House DORS program which offered a high school diploma and college credits. During her time at Christel House DORS she worked full-time and earned her diploma as well as 19 dual-enrollment classes at Ivy Tech Community College. She received her forklift certification, joined the Ivy Tech speech team which competed nationally in Colorado, went on a Biology emersion trip in Kentucky, and gave birth to her second son during her senior year. On June 5, 2015 Lesvi received her high school diploma and was the graduation speaker. She became the first in her family to graduate high school and go on to college. She received a 30 credit hour scholarship to Ivy Tech which she plans to use starting this fall. Lesvi is currently interning with the law firm of Moreno and Villarrubia LLP. She plans to go to law school and become an immigration attorney.